Lwarguiya (similar to cabbage) is a plant whose leaves are eaten and which is part of the daily diet in the oases of southeastern Morocco. It is best to eat the leaves either in the morning or the evening. This plant is cultivated by every farmer and has always accompanied the nomadic tribes in their movements and exoduses towards the city. Lwarguiya is a fundamental ingredient in numerous traditional recipes, like lwarguiya soup, lwarguiya bnekoula, corn couscous with lwarguiya and dried fava beans, lwarguiya salad, and a warm drink made from milk and lwarguiya leaves.
The leaves are also prized for their ability to fight off fever: when placed on the body the leaves help to lower body temperature. They are also used against headaches, placed directly on the part that hurts. Lwarguiya, which is naturally rich in fiber, also has a slight laxative effect. Finally, as it has an abundance of minerals, bioactive and antioxidant substances, this product is the perfect cure-all within the oases.
The historic production area for this product is the oases in Southeast Morocco, like the Tafilalet oasis. It is easy to find a small part of every garden that is dedicated to this plant’s cultivation. The current production can be estimated at about a few dozen kg per hectare cultivated. It is often sold in local markets, even though it is produced on such a small scale that the cultivations are mainly used for personal consumption.
This traditional product is at risk of disappearing today because the younger generations are less attentive to the food habits that are lined to tradition, and they are ever more oriented towards products that are prepared quickly. They thus ignore antique foods, their useful nutritional properties, and, in this case, their curative properties tied to herbology.
The loss of this product, due to changing dietary habits, would be a huge loss for the people of the oases, considering its importance not only for the local population’s consumption, but also for its culture and identity. Thankfully, studies are currently under way that are searching for ways to raise awareness for the development of and the return to consumption of this vegetable.
Image: @ Giovanni Marabese